It’s time to say Happy Birthday this month as your baby officially graduates from being a baby to becoming a toddler. A whole year has passed since they were born but it may not seem like it. Remembering life B.C. (before children) can be almost impossible, not to mention recalling just where the time has gone. But you can be sure that in spite of all the changes, your baby has added another dimension to your life.
Be prepared for a busy month as your baby reaches new developmental milestones. If they aren’t quite walking yet, this won’t be too far off. Some babies teeter and totter for months and others just get up on their two legs and almost run from the moment they can stand.
Lots of babies revert back to crawling when they’re in unfamiliar surroundings or they feel uncertain. Your baby is likely to do a combination of crawling and walking until they feel confident supporting themselves on two limbs and not four. Avoid letting them sit for long periods in their pram or the car. Practice makes perfect with walking as with any other skill, whether it relates to fine or gross motor achievements.
If you are breastfeeding, feel confident that there are still many benefits to both you and your baby to continue for up to two years and beyond. At 12 months of age, breast milk as well as solid foods, will help to meet your baby’s nutritional needs.
If your baby is bottle feeding, they can transition over to full cream cow’s milk this month, unless your health professional has recommended your baby remains on formula. Cow’s milk will your little one with all the nutrients they need to grow. At least 3 serves of milk a day, in combination with 3 solid meals and 2 snacks is ideal.
You may want to think about ceasing your baby’s bottles from now on. If your baby can drink from a cup and is becoming proficient at drinking and swallowing, then begin to phase out their bottles. This will help to protect their teeth and reduce the amount of time their vulnerable baby teeth are exposed to lactose – the sugar in milk.
Expect your toddler to still need 2 day time sleeps until after 14 months. You’ll look forward to these rest breaks and need them as much as they do. This can be a physically tiring time for parents, so be prepared.
Your baby is at a highly social and engaging age and will seek out stimulation wherever they can find it. Nature has designed them to look for situations which will occupy their mind and help them to learn new skills. Aim to have music, books, friends and activity in your household – your baby will only benefit. Seeing you relating to other people and interacting in appropriately sensitive ways will also teach them what is involved in communication and relationships. Your baby will be watching you and although you may think they are too young to take much in, don’t be fooled – they are like little sponges at this age.
Your toddler will also be learning all about their range of emotions now – anger happiness, frustration, boredom and their effects on the people around them. Babies are excellent at getting what they want. Their ability to charm their way into the hearts and minds of their loving parents is legendary. But managing a toddler’s emotional outbursts can take confidence and patience and it can be very hard to know just what to do when they become distressed.
One excellent book which will help you understand how your toddler’s brain works is The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland (Dorling Kindersley publishing).
Lots of gross motor activity this month which means this can be an exciting, but also worrying time for you as parents. It may seem to have been so much easier when you were able to place your baby in one spot and they stayed there until you picked them up. Now you’ll need to have eyes in the back of your head to monitor exactly where they have scurried off to.
Your toddler will be more independent with their eating and make their wishes more clearly known. Although their language skills will still be limited, they will experiment with sounds and parts of words. You’ll develop skills in deciphering what they’re saying and learn to interpret their body language.
Your baby will be able to point, wave, clap hands and transfer objects from one hand to the other. Even if they can’t walk, they may be able to balance with one hand holding on for stability.
Your baby is likely to have tripled their birth weight by now and grown in leaps and bounds. Compare their birthday photos with their newborn ones and marvel at the changes in 12 short months. If your baby was premature, they could be taking more time to reach their developmental milestones. Time, practice, environment, gender and the degree of prematurity will all impact on the amount of time it will take for your baby to meet these.
Make some time this month to celebrate your baby’s birthday and share the joy with family and friends. At 1 year of age, it’s not your baby who will appreciate all the fuss but it will be nice to acknowledge such a momentous occasion. Aim to time the gathering for after your baby has woken from a sleep and is likely to be more social.
This is a day when you can relax their routine a little and just go with the flow. Take lots of photos and video and ensure you and all the family are included. If you can, get a photo of all the generations of family present – the opportunity for doing this in life can be very limited.
Read more about Kid’s party ideas for planning your baby’s party.
You may want to give your baby a gift which can be added to over the years, such as a charm bracelet or a silver or china collection. Or you can give a special gift that can become a family heirloom such as a special train set or rocking horse. Books which are noted with a date and the giver’s name are always a lovely birthday gift.
Your toddler is likely to still want to be with you wherever you are, so if you are feeling as if you’ve constantly got a little shadow, be only glad. This is a sign that your baby feels secure with you being so close. There will come a time when they don’t want to be in such close proximity so for now, enjoy it.
You are likely to feel a little sad, as well as being excited, that your baby has reached such a significant milestone. But one year olds are still so young, and every age needs to be enjoyed! You may be considering whether now is the time to start planning for another baby or, to defer this for later or, you may feel your family is now complete. This is a conversation both parents should make together so you can decide what will work for your family.
Now that a year has gone past, you may feel you have more time and energy to do something for yourself. Some ‘me-time’ will do you good, see this as investing in your own self-care and wellbeing. Get active, go for walks, go shopping, visit a beautician, pick up a hobby and do things you didn’t have time for when you had a newborn.